Holding the hands together at the heart, anjali mudra is associated with mental and physical balance, strength and stability. When the hands are gently touching, it leads to a sense of focus and tranquility. When hands press tightly against one another, it strengthens the pectorals, biceps and triceps, while more actively engaging the pressure points.
This mudra is traditionally used with many poses. When I do my sun salutations, I like to begin with hands in prayer at heart, and as I continue, bring them together at the throat chakra, lips, third eye, crown chakra, and above (see photo).
Amy Weintraub, author of Yoga for Depression and Yoga Skills for Therapists, explains that the human hand is loaded with several thousand nerve receptors per square centimeter. With anjali mudra, the maximum surface of our hands are in play. “The tips of our fingers contain more nerve endings than most other parts of the body,” says Weintraub. “The Yogis understood that hand gestures called mudras guide energy flow and send messages to the brain.”
Anjali mudra stimulates balance between the two primary nadis (channels or meridians). In Ayurveda, known as ida and pingala, they run on either side of the spine.
Hand mudras are prominently practiced in Kundalini yoga where this particular mudra is known as pranam mudra. A praman refers to bowing with respect, or obeisances. Anjali, means divine offering or gift.